Australia leaped the final hurdle for the legalization of medical marijuana Wednesday, nearly seven months after its Parliament passed amendments to its national drug laws. Long-brewing after a major grass-roots campaign, the use of the drug for medicinal purposes will be allowed beginning in November but will also be “strictly controlled,” according to the Canberra Times.
The nation’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) — in the same vein as the United States Food and Drug Administration — published its final decision. However, the federal government is still forming a regulation structure, the Times reported.
Back in February, Australia made changes to its Narcotic Drugs Act that allowed marijuana to be grown for both medicinal and scientific purposes, but the recreational remained outlawed.
The looser restrictions are a result of a long-running local activist campaign, led by Lucy Haslam, whose son Daniel died at 25 from terminal bowel cancer in February of last year and used marijuana for to help with pain and nausea, according to CNN.
After her son’s death, Haslam started United in Compassion, an advocacy group that petitioned Australia’s government to legalize marijuana.
Haslam praised the TGA’s move but is also worried that the demand could make the market for medical marijuana too expensive for patients in need.
"My fear is that the industry will become so expensive that patients won't be able to access a legal supply at an affordable price," she told Fairfax Media.
"There's also a lot of work to do on educating people and doctors, some of who remain a bit uncomfortable about prescribing medical cannabis to patients."
According to the American Cancer Society, studies have shown that when smoked marijuana can help afflicted patients deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and pain derived from damaged nerves.